San Antonio, Texas, authorities announced on Tuesday that three individuals were in custody after discovering an 18-wheeler with a total of 62 illegal immigrants inside on Monday. Forty-six were dead on the scene, and 16 others suffering from heat-related illnesses were transported to area hospitals.
The Associated Press reported that four of those transported to area hospitals later died, bringing the death toll to 50.
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus told local media that three unidentified people were in custody in connection with the incident. The police chief emphasized the case was a federal investigation, and the Department of Homeland Security was leading it. The chief said his department would assist as needed.
The Associated Press reported those in custody as the truck driver and two other individuals.
During a press conference, McManus explained how a city worker made the initial discovery by hearing cries for help. Upon investigating, the worker noticed the trailer doors partially open and found “deceased individuals inside.” The worker called law enforcement.
San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood told local media that the individuals his team attended were hot to the touch, suffering from heat stroke and heat exhaustion. The fire chief also indicated that none of the 16 remaining alive could get out of the truck – they were too weak. He specified the trailer was refrigerated, but it didn’t appear the unit was working. Also, there were no signs of water in the truck. Consequently, the deceased victims likely died of heat stroke after being locked in a semi-trailer in 100-degree heat. The National Weather Service showed the high temperature in San Antonio reached 103 degrees on Monday. The fire chief also said the deceased were both men and women.
The Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard confirmed that 22 of the dead were Mexican citizens, seven Guatemalans and two from Honduras. It is unclear the nationality of the remaining 19 deceased individuals.
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg referred to the incident as a “horrific human tragedy” and pledged San Antonio as humanitarian’s in the crisis.
According to the Epoch Times, other similar incidents have occurred in San Antonio over the years. However, this is one of the deadliest that has claimed thousands of lives in recent decades as people attempt to enter the U.S. from Mexico. Ten illegal immigrants died in 2017 after being trapped inside a truck parked at a Walmart in San Antonio. In 2003, the bodies of 19 aliens were found in a sweltering truck southeast of San Antonio.
The Associated Press reported President Joe Biden’s statement regarding the tragedy.
“Exploiting vulnerable individuals for profit is shameful, as is political grandstanding around tragedy, and my administration will continue to do everything possible to stop human smugglers and traffickers from taking advantage of people who are seeking to enter the United States between ports of entry.”